Contrast Extraordinaire

Contrast Extraodinaire

This is a pretty dang strange transition I’m doing this week.

I was living on Jeju, a small island off the southern tip of mainland Korea, with a total population of around 500,000. Jeju means natural beauty, lush vegetable gardens, tropical storms, fishing, hiking. Korean means stressed-out fast-paced lifestyle of work and studying, with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. So, I was surrounded by water and green spaces, teaching little kids, on a go-go schedule with little time for dinner. In Korea, “Week-long vacations” in Korea are given mid-week to mid-week, so you’ll have seven days off, not nine. I’ve been unable to recover my voice for the past two weeks due to the combination of a cold and teaching some feisty kids. I went out with a bang, my last day of work a Halloween party.

In contrast…

Yesterday, I arrived in Riyadh, a city of about 12 million in the middle of the desert that is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Here Islam is the government and the religion, so at prayer times, businesses close. Calls to prayer can be heard anywhere you are, calling people to stop to pray five times a day. I arrived at 2 am, waited 2 hours for someone to meet me. The next day I was told, we’re on holiday so we’ll talk to you November 12th. From November 4th to November 11th, I’m free! Other teachers that arrived during this break may feel they’re being ignored, but me, I’m resting, listening to prayer calls floating in the air, and recharging. I’m A-ok.

About the Author: joangregerson

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